If everyone were asked to list their most frequently used piece of technology, smartphones would be the unanimous winner. Their capabilities make them devices we frequently reach for during the day and are often never far from them. In fact, a 2021 survey found that more than half of all respondents spent 5-6 hours on their phones each day, not including any smartphone use due to work.
The consensus is clear, smartphones are highly used devices. However, smartphones also emit a small amount of EMF radiation, meaning their frequent use can expose you to radiation for hours each day.
Continue reading to learn more about the radiation limits on smartphones, which phones give off the most and least radiation, and what you can do to lessen this exposure.
Radiation Emitted by Smartphones
Mobile devices, including smartphones, emit a small amount of radiofrequency (RF) radiation at all times. This is how they send and receive their signals from cell towers. However, whether you’re using your phone or have the phone near your body, you can also absorb this radiation.
While any part of your body near the phone can absorb this radiation, of greatest concern is how this radiation exposure may impact your brain and central nervous system since smartphones are often used close to the head.
These worries are not unsubstantiated. Ionizing radiation has been shown to cause some brain cancers, and while ionizing radiation is a higher-energy radiation than RF radiation, there is still concern about the effects of frequent and long-term RF radiation from using cell phones and if it may cause similar cancers to develop.
The SAR Value
The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is the parameter used to measure radiation emission in phones. The SAR is also limited, with a cutoff level that all cell phone radiation emissions must fall under for the smartphone to be deemed safe.
The radiation standards for cell phones produced in the United States have been set at 1.6 W/Kg by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), meaning any phone with a SAR value above this limit could be hazardous to your health.
However, even though all the popular smartphones on the market fall under this limit, they still offer exposure to radiation, with some having higher radiation emissions than others. For those looking to limit their EMF radiation exposure, opting for a phone with a lower SARS value may be a good idea.
Ranking Smartphones by SAR Value
The following are 12 smartphone models available today, ordered from highest to lowest SAR value.
- Samsung Galaxy S23 (1.58)
- OnePlus 11 (1.19)
- Apple iPhone 14 Pro (1.15)
- Google Pixel 7 Pro (1.09)
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 (1.02)
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro (0.99)
- Google Pixel 6a (0.99)
- Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (0.96)
- Nokia C21 Plus (0.40)
- LG V60 ThinQ 5G (0.35)
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus (0.26)
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8 DUOS (0.17)
Of note, the Samsung Galaxy S23 has the highest SAR value by far and only just falls under the SAR limit. This makes the Samsung Galaxy S23 the worst phone on the market in regard to how much radiation is emitted.
However, Samsung has also created the phone with the lowest SAR value, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 DUOS. For those looking for a cell phone with the lowest radiation, this is the best option.
How To Limit RF Radiation Exposure
Beyond changing out your smartphone for a model that emits less radiation, there are other steps you can take to lessen the amount of RF radiation you are exposed to:
Spend Less Time on Your Phone
First and foremost, spending less time on your phone, and keeping it away from your body when you’re not using it, lessens the amount of RF radiation you are exposed to each day.
The amount of radiation absorbed by the body is greatest when the radiation-emitting device (i.e., the smartphone) is in direct contact with the skin. Because of this, using speakerphone instead of holding the phone to your head keeps the RF radiation away from your body and lessens your exposure.
Use Protective Covers
Smartphones can emit RF radiation even when not in use, which is why EMF protective covers can be a great way to lessen their impact and further decrease the exposure you get.
Overall, radiation from smartphones is an unavoidable daily occurrence, but being aware of your phone’s SAR value, lessening your smartphone usage, and keeping your phone away from your body by using speakerphone or EMF cell phone pouches can help lessen your daily exposure.
Time spent on average on a smartphone in the U.S. 2021 | Statista. (2023). https://www.statista.com/statistics/1224510/time-spent-per-day-on-smartphone-us/
Cell Phones and Specific Absorption Rate. https://www.fcc.gov/general/cell-phones-and-specific-absorption-rate